Being in power surely means one has authority, but doesn't necessarily mean one has expertise. And even if one indeed has expertise, that doesn't mean one cannot err, misinterpret information, or just make a plain-old bad decision. Leaders and rulers are just people, despite what the latter of the two believe. The citizens' response to those in power depends upon the nature of the government; democracy, plutocracy, totalitarian, national socialist, etc. There are denizens of forms, and each form extends different ramifications upon its citizens based on the constituency of the government. Generally speaking, the more control-oriented the government, the more the citizens band together (sometimes in the darkness) to find some semblance of freedom and expression. The more freedom the citizens are allowed, the less of a need they have to vent their frustrations, though, I'm not going to say they're frustration-free. There's a definitive link between the size of government and civil unrest, even if the unrest can only exist mentally, as in Totalitarian or Fascist regimes.
Critiquing the common man, the herd, whatever you'd like to call him, is a time-proven asset to expanding our understanding of human affairs, including our attitude toward the non-human world. However, let's not let this overlook the common man's practical potential: he can critique the government. Orwell identifies the power of criticism as the great strength of democracy. Not all criticisms are valid or realistic, of course, but this at least allows a relationship between the ruler and the ruled. He leads them, and if they don't like it, they have somewhat of a voice to adjust the policies. (The inherent flaw of the people having a voice is that the majority's voice is heard the loudest, hence viewed as the...*gulp*...the best).
Orwell critiques James Burnham's Managerial Revolution, indicating how Burnham's projection's didn't come true. What I find interesting is Burnham's premise: traditional forms of government are gone, leaving a new ruling class comprised of Managers, overseeing governmental affairs and making productive choices based on efficiency. How did they not Manage in the first place, when government existed more purely in terms of its chosen format? Because this nuance of Management is a form of totalitarianism, subjugating the working class. Sounds like a conspiracy theory until I think about modern America and see how the government uses shifty rhetoric to "manage" our phone calls, emails, and browsing history to "ensure our safety." Sure, Burnham's predictions were wrong in his day, but only because they didn't particularly work out. His observation that governmental formats are mutated and diseased makes for an excellent platform of critique for modern day. Why throw out the baby with the bath water? He had a point, and
"When one sees how the Nazi regime has succeeded in smashing itself to pieces within a dozen years it is difficult to believe in the survival value of totalitarianism. But I would not deny that the "managerial" class might get control of our society, and that if they did they would lead us into some hellish places before they destroyed themselves." (p. 523)
Click the RSS FEED button below to receive notification of new Orwell 365 posts.